Massive protest in Bahrain

Thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital Manama on Tuesday afternoon in a noisy but peaceful anti-government demonstration.

The march left the capital s Salmaniya hospital and moved slowly towards Pearl roundabout monument which has become a rallying point for pro-democracy campaigners during weeks of protests.

Men and women marched separately many waving Bahraini flags and chanting loudly.
The continued demonstrations appear part of a strategy to hold rallies at sensitive locations in Manama while maintaining a round-the-clock protest base in a landmark square in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Already this week protesters have staged rallies outside the country s parliament the state television government ministries and marched past international banks and hotels as well as foreign embassies.

Shiites who account for about 70 percent of the country s 525-thousand people have long complained of discrimination and other abuses by the Sunni rulers.

The uprising in Bahrain was the first in the Gulf from the reform groundswell across the Arab world. But clashes have since spread to Oman and opposition groups in Saudi Arabia have brought rare challenges to the near-absolute power of the nation s king.

Bahrain s rulers have sought talks with opposition groups to ease the tensions. However they are under pressure from Gulf allies not to offer too many political concessions. Many Sunnis across the region fear that conceding significant power to Bahrain s Shiites could open the door for greater influence by Shiite powerhouse Iran.

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